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Consumer telecoms expert comments on Ofcom ruling on landline and mobile charges

19 July 2015: Ofcom has announced clearer landline and mobile charges for calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 and 118, while Freephone will become free from mobiles.

At present, callers to these numbers are not always told how much the call will cost them. Prices will become clearer on telephone bills, and in marketing and advertising, from 1 July.

Commenting on the announcement, telecoms expert and Cable.co.uk editor-in-chief Dan Howdle said:

"I see this as the first step to addressing a wider issue. UK landline and mobile providers use compound pricing structures to advertise tempting – and arguably unrealistic – headline prices.

"Freephone, 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers often represent substantial add-on costs to the prices advertised, and up until now providers have not been obligated to make it especially clear how much this is likely to add to your bill.

"The upshot is that someone with a £12.99 per month plan including free minutes, texts and data can, and often will, find themselves paying multiples of that at the end of each month. This is simply due to the fact that we often perceive there being little choice but to call these numbers to pay a bill, make an enquiry, conduct our banking and so on.

"The truth, however, is that there are usually alternatives to calling these 08 numbers in the first place, and frugal consumers should always seek out their local alternatives."

"Upfront warning of the cost of calling 08, 09 and 118 numbers will cause a sharp decline in their use."

The full Ofcom release is available here:http://media.ofcom.org.uk/news/2015/phone-charges-made-simpler/

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Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades, running research fieldwork both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now consumer telecoms analyst at Cable, as well as more formally operating in the role of its Director of Communications and Content.

An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer, Dan has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers. Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality, administered Cable’s Broadband Service Quality Awards and sat on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.

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